“Love, Money, Rock’n’Roll” is a visual novel, currently being funded on Kickstarter by Soviet Games, set in eighties, Japan as seen through Nickolai, a young man with some life challenges suddenly posed onto him. This game isn’t just a bunch of references nor a satire of all things Eighties. What this game is about is how Nickolai deals with his life in Japan, but not in the way he expected it or wanted to.
Nickolai’s more immediate problems come from the gallery of heroines in the game. First, there is Himistu, the childhood friend. Like any anime childhood friend, she tends to worry over him and with his parents being deceased she decided to be his asserted caretaker, which he debates whether or not this is a good thing or just taking advantage of her. Then there is Kagome, a young woman who grew somewhat emotionless because of all the crap she deals with. Despite being the class president, she keeps herself removed from everyone around her. Nevertheless, Nickolai still wonders if there’s anything left in her. Next we have Ellie, the sort of school princess. As she´s the daughter of one of the chairmen of Nickolai’s school, so she tries to be posh and live up to her family’s namesake. However, since this is the eighties, there’s a rebel in her. Finally, there’s Catherine, the ex-lover. Though she’s not a succubus, she still haunts Nickolai both in memory and present, as she suddenly came back as she left.
This is not a typical love story like in some romantic comedy visual novels. This story is more grounded in realistic issues as Nickolai’s choices are complicated, such as whether he should tell Himistu about his encounters with Catherine, or if he should stand up for Kagome as she takes verbal abuse from rich family delinquents. And if those aren’t enough problems there’s the mystery of who is tagging him over his father’s past work as an engineer let alone what the hell what the project was. To make things interesting this problem didn’t occur until after Catherine’s return. The choices you have to make naturally affect the course of the story, though they work as ripple effects than decision times that lead to a different branch like in “War: 13th” Day or “HuniePop.” It’s a good read so far from the demo, though the mystery arc of the story gets sudden cut offs when things were getting more interesting.
Soviet Games enlisted three artists to work on the graphics for this novel, and the art is right up there with the Japanese VNs. Backgrounds are crazy detailed with animations in some scenes. You can even spot some things that you would expect from Eighties, Japan. The characters are down to Earth with 80s vibe in their clothes, with their design matching their personalities. However, if you want some crazy hair don’t worry. It looks like this novel has you covered. The CGs are just as good, matching the atmosphere of the scene along with the music (which I’ll cover next). And the developer said there will be more in the final release.
While the animated backgrounds are already added to the demo, the full version will supposedly have animated sprites for the characters. Additionally, they will have a separate version of the game with adult content that can be downloaded from Nutaku (with love, from Soviet Games). I don’t know why they could just put in a toggle like in “Katawa Shoujo” but at least they announced they would do it (let alone give us a good site for hentai games).
There are ambient background sounds in most of the scenes so it wouldn’t feel dead, but the music is what brings this game to life. The music is well composed and can get you to invest in some emotion, even with the love tracks. Nevertheless, this is a game set in the Eighties, so there are plenty of tracks that rock as well. The Eighties Era of music is so strong in this soundtrack. I regret that I can’t have an electricity arc between my fingers while giving it the rocker’s hand sign while listening to it. There’s definitely going to be an OST to buy along with this game.
The demo has left me interested, more so with what the hell did Nickloai’s dad work on. You should check out the demo even if you’re not stuck in the Eighties. If you want to rock out on some tunes instead Soviet Games has the soundtrack to listen to on their Kickstarter and home page. Rock on!
+ Writing will leave you for more in both romance and mystery arcs
+ Most rocking 80s soundtrack in a visual novel
+ Japanese visual novel grade art
+ Believable characters in design
– Mystery arc is cut off short just when you get invested
– Two separate versions of the game instead of a H-Scene toggle
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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